Afghanistan facing AIDS risk, solution at hand : Report

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Kabul, Nov 12 (UNI) Afghanistan has joined the long list of countries facing the risk of HIV-AIDS a report released today warned.

The report by Action Aid, however, stated that solution was available before the problem reached pandemic proportions.

The country was at risk because it was surrounded by regional countries with high prevalence of AIDS, had an increasing number of drug users, returning refugee populations, opening up of commercial transport links, sexually transmitted infections, poor safety standards for blood transfusion, low status of women, illiteracy and low use of condoms, John Foran, author of the report said.

The study found that there was a greater recognition of HIV/AIDS as a disease that might have been expected with 58 per cent of those surveyed having heard of the disease. However, only half of those who had heard of it were aware of what it was and even fewer knew how it could be transmitted or prevented.

Currently there were no comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of AIDS in the country.

Afghanistan is the largest opium producer accounting for 93 per cent of the global opiates market, and the cultivation is leading to a growing number of drug users. Two-fifth of the drug users surveyed were unaware that sharing needles could transmit AIDS.

The risks to Afghanistan are considerable because the country currently had no services for HIV/AIDS treatment, care or support.

The cultural sensitivities also lead to a tendency to deny the problem and the risk factors rather than dealing with them.

The report has suggested initiating peer education projects, developing culturally sensitive communication material and a national strategic plan for a country-wide response to the intravenous drug users.


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